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What Keith's Watching: Blackhat (2014)

Blackhat proves one very simple rule: It's impossible to make a good movie about hacking. Sure, it's totally possible to use hacking as a plot point, but to make an entire 2+ hour movie about hacking is an impossible task, even for a great director like Michael Mann.

There are a couple problems with a hacking movie. The first is that hacking can only look cool for so long. You can only watch someone type lines of code without fully understanding what's going on. That's why in Swordfish, hugh Jackman hacks by solving puzzles. It looks cooler. Also, when you make a hacking movie, and part of the movie is about finding out who the hacker is, it means there is essentially no villain. We know what the vilian has done, but we don't have a face to go with the action. We don't even have a face in the shadows or a set of hands on a keyboard. So why do I care?

In Blackhat, we stumble upon a psuedo villain who's really just a thug. So when it comes down to it at the end of the movie, we're happy when the thug gets his due, but when we meet the blackhat hacker, I don't care. You can't wait until the end of the movie to reveal the villain. 

Also, the character that Chris Hemsworth plays is just a bizzare character. He's a hacker, but he's in great physical shape. It turns out he's a better detective than any of the other investigators he works with. And in Act 2 we find out that he can also shoot a gun. Sure. That makes sense. He also seems to have the ability throughout the movie to get inside the head of the blackhat hacker. Considering what little we've seen and heard from the hacker, it's quite astounding.

Now, the movie isn't poorly made. The shootouts are great. Every part of it is well made and well shot. But the story just falls apart and has no substance. The romance storyline has no real basis. The investigation just bumbles from one point to another. Thank God they were able to find a hacker everyman in Hemsworth that could do everything they needed whenever they were writtten into a corner.


What Keith's Watching: Mortdecai (2015)

I went in not really sure what to expect from Mortdecai. It looked silly and stupid. And it was. On the outside it looked slapsticky and juvenile. And it was also exactly those things. But that's not to say I hated it. I actually kind of enjoyed it. In a weird, weird way.

Mortdecai is like a modern day Pink Panther only slightly less good. (Editor's Note: I am referring to the original Pink Panther, not the Steve Martin remakes. I have never seen those. Probably never will.) There's the added twist that Mortdecai is part a bubbling amatuer detective and part a criminal himself. And he's a complete wuss. He's a upper class Englishman who has a hired man servant/thug.

The plot isn't great, the acting is decent, and the characters are all over the top. Which is exactly how I think it was supposed to be. And that makes Mortdecai enjoyable. There is the sense that the movie came out exactly how they wanted it. It wasn't a movie that was unsure what it was going to be or that seemed to be trying too hard. 

It's probably not going to be for everyone. There are many many people that will watch it and think it stupid. There are many people that will wonder what the hell Johnny Depp was doing and recommend he goes back to making Pirates and Tim Burton movies. But really, I enjoyed it. I loved the ongoing gags with the mustache. I'd definitely watch it again. I probably won't buy it, but I will watch it again. And I suspect, that on another watch, my appreciation of it will grow more.


Check out more movie talk on the latest episode of my podcast, Living Room Theatre, featuring permanent guest host, my wife!


What Keith's Watching: Going Clear (2015)

Going Clear is a fascinating, well-done documentary about Scientology that actually explores the real problems with the "religion" and not the strange beliefs that they supposedly have. It's a documentary that everyone needs to see, if their only knowledge of Scientology comes from that episode of South Park.

Going Clear has real people, former members, talking openly about what they went through in their time with the church. Real people who were there from the beginning and how they got hooked into the idea of this religion and then how things started to transform into what we know and openly mock today. It turns out that Scientology didn't start as a religion based on space planes, aliens, and volcano ghosts. It started more or less as a self-help.

But then, Scientology transformed and morphed into a organization of corruption, control and abuse of its members. I knew that they were very secretive and protective of their organization and what their members said. I always assumed that a lot of the stories of their threats were just tabloid bullshit. Apparently, this isn't true. Apparently, the Church of Scientology is a fucking terrible organization run by a crazy person. And the proof, what stands out most in Going Clear, is that a number of the people interviewed were at the top level. They were the right and left hands of David Miscavige.

Going Clear is so well-done, that it's impossible to find any fault with it. It only brushes over the superficial silly beliefs, that no one really seems to believe, and gets to the heart of what's truly wrong with that organiation. Going Clear shows us why we should all be worried that Scientology continues to exist.


Check out more movie talk on the latest episode of my podcast, Living Room Theatre, featuring permanent guest host, my wife!


What Keith's Watching: The Voices (2015)

The Voices is an interesting concept that falls flat. Partially a dark comedy, partially a take-off on Fight Club, The Voices in the end is just awkward to watch. 

Maybe the story and character just seem to realistic and the idea of him working at a bath tub factory doesn't lighten the load. He's a sick man that isn't quite getting the help he needs. And for some reason there are these women that are drawn to him. And even though his delusions bring some levity to the situation, I can't help but think of the flip side of the coin - what is really happening.

I have a lot of questions about the bowling alley and how no one figured things out earlier based on the clues that must have been there. And the smells.

it's not that The Voices was a terrible movie. I would much rather watch it over several other films in existence. It just didn't wow me. Ryan Reynolds played the part well. The acting across the board was good. I liked the visual choices that were made to denote fantasy from reality. The attitude of the talking pets were spot on to how those pets would sound if voiced by a homicidal, very disturbed man. But, as a whole, it didn't leave a major impression on me. I didn't walk away thinking about the movie and it's impact on the art form or thinking that people should really see this movie.

The Voices is a completely watchable movie. It just doesn't have a high rewatch factor. In fact, it has zero.

(I would like everyone to take note of the times I avoided the phrase "fell on deaf ears" to avoid the poor pun. Thank you.)


Check out more movie talk on the latest episode of my podcast, Living Room Theatre, featuring permanent guest host, my wife!


What Keith's Watching: The Cobbler (2014)

I went into The Cobbler the way everyone should - with low expectations. I say this because at the end of the day, low expectations lead to big rewards.

Here's what I knew about The Cobbler: one day I found the trailer on line, a couple weeks later it was released in theaters and VOD, then within a month it was released on DVD. The time frame might be a little off, but my point is, it's release was rapidly accelerated. And that usually means a bad movie.

In the case of The Cobbler though, that isn't the truth. The problem with The Cobbler is that no one knew how to market it. It's starring Adam Sandler, but it isn't a comedy. It's also not quite the drama that Punch Drunk Love was. It's slightly on the dark side which means it's not a family film, but it has moments that take it away from a straight film for adults.

In the end, I actually really enjoyed The Cobbler. Adam Sandler was great as was Steve Buscemi. In fact, all the acting was solid. The premise is really good and by the end there is a whole fantasy world in existence in the film's universe. It would almost make me want a sequel, or at the very least, talk to the writers over a couple beers.

Don't go into The Cobbler expecting Happy Gilmore or Wedding Singer. It's not like any of Sandler's recent movies. In fact, it's not like a movie of recent memory. Which in my book is the number one reason you should see it.


Check out more movie talk on the latest episode of my podcast, Living Room Theatre, featuring permanent guest host, my wife!